According to an article in The Guardian, one of the top five regrets of the dying is
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Jane McGonigal, a professional Game Designer, suggests that when we adopt an avatar (or character in a game) and we talk about ourselves in third person with a focus on our strengths, it’s an incredible brain hack. It greatly reduces anxiety and depression.
Self-doubt can lead to an endless mission to ‘fix’ weaknesses
For a long time I continually doubted my abilities and was determined to ‘fix’ them.
Curious by nature I would constantly ask, why? Why do I behave the way I do? What do I need to change to be more successful? Why aren’t I more confident like so-and-so? Why do I find it so hard to speak up?
The older I get and the more women I coach, I realise this is a fairly common attribute among women.
So much so, the theory goes that a man will apply for a job knowing they only meet 40% of the criteria, while a woman will hesitate to apply until she is capable of at least 90% of the criteria.
This is a generalisation, but it rings true for a number of people.
To succeed in the workplace women need more confidence
Leaving the corporate world and entering the hustle of small business, I’ve been forced to put myself out there and pitch for work and opportunities that I thought were beyond my league, particularly when I was starting out.
However, after years of continually testing my abilities, more often than not the key is to consider my ‘potential’ rather than solely my current skill set.
In an article published in July 2015, Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh said women need more confidence at work.
As a woman in the workforce, Walsh says, “you need to have more confidence in your own ability to adapt, your ability to be resilient, your ability to be flexible and responsive to a new challenge and you need to take a risk.”
You can fake confidence, but never fake authenticity and passion
I’m not suggesting that you fake it ‘til you make it, although there is significant research to prove that ‘power posing’ has the ability to reprogram your brain and result in more confidence.
Instead, a key element of Amy Cuddy’s TED talk about how your body language shapes who you are, is that you can fool your mind into being more confident, but you should never fake your authenticity and passion.
Combined with confidence and being comfortable in a situation, it’s your authenticity and passion that reinforce your presence.
Being authentic and passionate about what you do truly comes into play when you match the right opportunities to your innate strengths.
Identifying and nurturing those strengths, rather than spending energy trying to ‘fix’ your weaknesses, helps you leverage those opportunities more effectively.
In essence, focusing on your strengths, builds confidence in your ability to adapt and be resilient and therefore more responsive to new challenges.
If you focus too much on your weaknesses, you lose confidence.
Playing to our strengths infuses us with energy and confidence
Ryan Niemiec, author of Mindfulness & Character Strengths, states “Signature strengths are those strengths we bring forth most naturally across multiple settings and infuse us with energy.“
“As they are core to our identity, they help individuals to function at their best and maintain a sense of authenticity,” he says.
So next time you are doubting your ability to tackle a new challenge or obstacle, think of your own personal avatar and what strengths they would call on in this situation. And go for it!